Welcome to the Chair of Systems Design

Our research can be best described as data driven modeling of complex systems, with particular emphasis on social, socio-technical and socio-economic systems. We are a really interdisciplinary team of about 20 people from various disciplines (statistical physics, applied mathematics, computer science, social science, engineering). And, yes, we do all the cool stuff, from big data analysis to multilayer network models, from social software engineering to predictions of scientific success - not to forget our research on polarization in political systems, cooperation in animal societies, and life cycles of R&D networks. Just click through our publications, funded projects, teaching or media coverage. 


Mothers Joining Forces: Benefits of Communal Nesting in House Mice

Our paper on the benefits of communal nursing in wild house mice, written together with biologists at the University of Zurich, has been featured by the Animal Behaviour editors in this month's article selection.


Selection rules in alliance formation: Strategic decisions or abundance of choice?

In our new preprint,  we use a large dataset about firm alliances, and we identify two distinct behaviors in the alliance formation process.


Paper published in Proceedings of WSDM 2014

By combining multiple social media datasets, it is possible to gain insight into each dataset that goes beyond what could be obtained with either individually. In this paper we combine user-centric data from Twitter with video-centric data from YouTube to build a rich picture of who watches and shares what on YouTube.


How important are effects of social influence for scientific success?

You do good scientific work but nobody cites you? Maybe this is because you are not well enough embedded in the scientific social network. In  our new paper Predicting Scientific Success Based on Coauthorship Networks (arXiv:1402.7268) we take a look at the question what role mechanisms of social influence play for scientific success.


Paper published in Nature Communications

Our paper "Causality-driven slow-down and speed-up of diffusion in non-Markovian temporal networks" has just been published in the journal Nature Communications. In this work, we study the influence of order correlations on causality structures in time-stamped networked data. Our results highlight an important additional dimension of complexity in temporal networks, and provide interesting perspectives for novel network-based ranking and clustering algorithms.


Paper on the digital traces of Bitcoin bubbles

Our paper "The digital traces of bubbles: Feedback cycles between socio-economic signals in the Bitcoin economy" has appeared published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. We analyzed millions of tweets, search queries, and transactions in the bitcoin economy, and we found how word of mouth and bitcoin adoption led to price bubbles in Bitcoin markets.


Modeling the growth of R&D networks

Our paper The role of endogenous and exogenous mechanisms in the formation of R&D networks has appeared on Scientific Reports. We have developed a general modeling framework, able to reproduce with surprising precision many macroscopic and microscopic features of empirical R&D networks. By testing the model on a comprehensive dataset, we have also quantified the relative importance of existing network structures over exogenous factors in the selection of new alliance partners. For more details, read our full paper.


Bechdel test article in ETH news

Our recent research on the Bechdel test of social media has been reported in ETH news:

[English version]   [German version]


Article on the Bechdel test of social media

Our article titled "Gender Asymmetries in Reality and Fiction: The Bechdel Test of Social Media" has been accepted as a full paper in the 8th International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM '14).



Social Informatics book available for pre-order

The book Social Informatics: The Social Impact of Interactions between Humans and IT, which was co-edited by Ingo Scholtes, is now available for pre-order from Springer. The book contains selected contributions to the successful workshop Sozioinformatik 2013, which took place last year at the Informatik Jahrestagung and which was co-organized by a member of our group.


SocInfo 2014 Workshop on Social Influence

We cordially invite submissions to the Workshop on Social Influence, which will be held on November 10, 2014 at the 6th International Conference on Social Informatics (SocInfo 2014) in Barcelona, Spain. The workshop is co-organized by Ingo Scholtes and addresses the influence of social aspects in information systems. A call for papers is available online.


Wisdom of crowds and the World cup in ETH news

Large-scale comparison of crowd versus individual predictions for the World cup in Brazil is in ETH news:

[German version] [English version]


Talk and poster at DRUID 2014 and Schumpeter 2014 Conferences

Our paper "The Rise and Fall of R&D networks" has been accepted at the DRUID Society Conference 2014 (Copenhagen, Denmark) and at the International Schumpeter Conference 2014 (Jena, Germany).


Mechanism design for the outbreak of cooperation

Find an overview of our recent publications here